The path back to normality…whatever that looks like!

The APO committee has announced the start of a series of online projects. Here’s why…

It’s been around six months since we last presented an event, the incredible #APOplanets and held our last string workshop before lockdown, on March 1st.

During this hiatus, we’ve raised over £15,000 to support professional musicians, held online quizzes and get togethers and shared videos of our efforts to keep playing. Towards the beginning, we made a conscious decision not to go down the route of trying to put together an asynchronous montage video, partly because this type of music is, frankly, not particularly satisfying, and partly because it would place too high a burden on those who would likely be involved. As many of us have seen our day jobs get busier and more intense as have been unfortunate enough to have been furloughed.

The APO committee recently met to consider Making Music’s campaign to bring back music making for non-professional groups. The campaign ‘#BringBackMyChoir #BringBackMyBand’ contends that groups should be able to analyse their own risks and put in place control measures in a similar way to professional groups. While we agree with the arguments put forward about mental wellbeing and how important our music-making is, we’re not sure we can agree that there is no reason why we ought to be treated the same as professionals. They need to work to earn; there is no financial imperative for us to come together. There seems to be no scientific consensus about the parameters that would satisfactorily mitigate the risk of transmission. How are we meant to carry out a risk assessment without such clarity? We wholeheartedly support calls for urgent research in this area.

Until we get this clarity we have decided, with the heaviest of hearts, that we cannot with all conscience plan to present any concerts this winter, at a time when our most vulnerable members and supporters need to be shielding from the likely double whammy of Covid-19 and the ‘flu. It is likely that this will also apply to other indoor gatherings involving ensembles, such as string workshops.

We’re not done with music making in 2020, just yet! So today, we’re announcing a programme of musical development, starting online, with a path back to normality (whatever that looks like!) over time. It’s time for us to come together with our instruments!

What happens when things start getting back to normal?

We’ll keep monitoring the situation. The beauty about the online projects is that elements of them can be transferred to an in-person format (particularly those which involve smaller numbers), so we can use the online activity to enable in-person events that match the parameters that are possible at any given time (bearing in mind that as winter approaches, these might become more restrictive).